Sometimes It Takes a Coalition to Protect a Profession

Sometimes It Takes a Coalition to Protect a Profession
Chris Heaton — August 9, 2021

We are monitoring 122 bills related to occupational licensing just passed the halfway mark in the year. Many are innocuous. But many others could have or will have a significant impact on your business, if passed. As the electronic security industry pushes through with evolving technology to support intrusion and fire/life safety monitoring systems, many members are recognizing and pursuing other limited energy services that customers want/demand. These include home networking, lighting, and audio/visual systems.

What may be easily lost in this evolution to adapt and fill consumer demand are applicable licensing and regulatory issues that touch on other limited energy statutes. With this in mind, ESA joined other organizations that represent the limited energy industry in 2014 to review and advocate on legislative and regulatory issues common to all organizations. This coalition developed model language and best practices low-voltage legislation. It created a position paper on deceptive sales practices Over the years it evolved but remains strong as participants meet regularly to discuss legislative threats and opportunities on an almost weekly basis. Limited energy legislation and regulation usually tops the list.

Bills in Alaska, Maryland, Oklahoma, North Carolina, New Jersey, Michigan and West Virginia top recent discussions and advocacy efforts, but virtually every state has come up over the years. Numerous efforts from well placed organizations within the coalition have averted very bad legislation. Many others have mitigated damaging regulations.

Some of these efforts are public. Others are not and for good reason. On more than a few occasions it only took a call from a constituent to a bill sponsor to educate them on the unintended consequences of some particular language in a bill that could be wrongly interpreted by an authority having jurisdiction (AHJ). The language is amended, and everything is fine. Business continues as usual. In other instances it took a full-court press of all coalition participants to make a difference.

But what would happen if coalitions like those we forged with other companies and trade associations did not exist? Without multimillion-dollar budgets to blanket states with lobbyists, it would be virtually impossible to have the impact we do have through a coalition.

I can provide one example without going into great detail. Prior to the pandemic, a bill in North Dakota that created power limited technician licensing requirements was introduced. It would have included electronic security businesses in that state and it was constructed in a very negative way for all limited energy (low-voltage) companies. Other trade associations and companies also had a very keen interest in this bill and concerns with its potential impact. But ESA had a member in Bismarck who had the ability to go to the Capitol and speak with the bill sponsor and other members of the committee about to hear the bill. No one else did, in sub-zero temperatures in February. While the bill passed, some key language was amended to address our concerns.

Similar bills were introduced in other states where organizations had members with close contacts in their legislatures. The coalition, along with good communication, put key people in a position to make a difference on the outcome. The coalition keeps all participating organizations apprised and where necessary, take action.

This coalition and those that exist to represent many professions and trades serve a valuable purpose. The numerous positive outcomes that protect your business are just a small piece of the great value we hope you all receive with ESA membership.

 

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